International and domestic students rallied outside the NSW state Labor Party conference on June 30, calling for an end to the discriminatory policy under which international students are ineligible for student travel concession cards.
Despite having more than 300,000 international students enrolled in universities across the state, NSW is the only state in Australia that does not give international students travel concessions.
International students have become an integral part of the university funding model in NSW. They pay far higher fees than their domestic counterparts but remain subject to strict student visa requirements that limit their employment to 20 hours a week.
Many international students are unable to find stable employment or housing, and recent incidents have highlighted the prevalence of wage theft and abuse caused by this precarious position. With many international students unable to afford a car, even a small travel concession will have a great impact upon the feasibility of continued study here in NSW.
A campaign group of students from multiple universities, including University of Sydney, University of NSW, Western Sydney University and University of Technology Sydney, is fighting for the right to discounted public transport for all students.
Student leader Geena George, a postgraduate at Sydney University, addressed the rally, saying: "International students pay at least twice as much for their degrees as domestic students. We do not believe they should also have to pay higher transport costs. We believe this is discrimination."
Student activists are calling on the NSW Labor Party to revise their transport policy and commit to abolition of this two-tiered system. This unfair policy does not enjoy community support and is out of step with policies in place in all other states and territories across Australia.